When I first began to understand the many factors that affect my ability to borrow money, one step was clear: I needed my credit report. It was the season of ultimate stress. Taxes, college graduation, and a job search all piled up at one time, and the word future was forbidden from my vocabulary. However, my credit report helped ease many of the tensions of the real world. I realized that the first 22 years of my life had not doomed me for failure after leaving the shelter of a college campus when my credit report revealed that my financial status was stable.
Getting my credit report was simple. One primary service grants free access to a yearly credit report, and this service is surprisingly called Annual Credit Report. Using the company’s online services, I instantly understood my credit history and future. If I would have chosen to have the report delivered via standard postal mail, the wait would have been approximately 15 days. While there are a variety of supposedly free outlets for a credit report, Annual Credit Report is the only service that does not include hidden fees. Federal law requires that this service be free of charge once each year. If a credit report is needed more than once during the year, there are three major services that one can pay for a credit report: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Seven states mandate that free credit reports be available at any time. I considered moving to New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, or Maryland in order to obtain my credit report for no cost but quickly realized that the cost of paying another service was less than paying movers. Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union typically charge up to 10 dollars for a credit report.
As I prepared to sign my first lease, the landlord asked me for my credit report. Thankfully, all of my information was correct; if any discrepancy would have arisen in my credit report, I would have needed to contact the company that gave me the report and the company that provided the inaccurate information. This is one of the primary benefits of keeping an updated report; I can insure that I am in sound financial standing and decrease the possibility of identity theft. Because employers and insurers have the right to access my credit report, I check the accuracy of my credit report every six months to avoid the major pains of a bad credit report.
For my first credit report, I used the free service. Now, I vary which service I use each six months. Because each company obtains their consumer information through different resources, my credit report with Equifax may be different than my credit report with Trans Union. When you request your credit report, you may use all of the services to check each company’s accuracy. While this cost is not necessary, I always keep an updated copy of my credit report.